Theses Doctoral

How Do High School Students With Disabilities View Their Experiences in Physical Education?

Tyndorf, Lauren

The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of students with disabilities who were participating in an inclusive physical education setting. The information gained will add to the existing knowledge base regarding the placement of students with and without disabilities in a common setting. Given the importance of ensuring that the students with disabilities are able to truly participate in an inclusive setting, the study focused on obtaining and evaluating perceptions with respect to both the inclusive physical education setting and physical activity in general.

Participants were seven students with various disabilities from two high schools which utilize inclusive physical education programs. Gaining and understanding of the perceptions of those students required use of various methods, including observations, interviews and visual methodologies. Observations provided information as to the manner in which all students interacted in the classroom setting. Interviews elicited the thoughts of the students with disabilities regarding physical activity, their participation in such activities and their participation in the physical education classroom. Use of visual methods, including pictures and personal artifacts, elicited further thoughts by prompting memories and allowing for further expression of feelings.

Students exhibited positive attitudes on physical activity, recognizing the importance of such activity and sharing the belief that a person with a disability is able to participate in physical activities. While students had a positive perception of the inclusive physical education setting, they indicated activity modification would enhance their level of participation. The perceived modifications were predominantly focused on being able to choose an activity during class, one in which they felt they were more likely to succeed.

Findings suggest that consideration of students’ perceptions of physical activity, including the perceived impact of their disability must continue to be considered by educators in developing inclusive physical education programs. Such perceptions may impact the level of student participation in an activity and in the physical education class. This is critical for future practice in order to identify additional ways of ensuring that students with disabilities will continue to participate in physical activities, while accepting the limitations of a disability when necessary.


Downloadable resources are currently unavailable for this item.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Biobehavioral Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Silverman, Stephen
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
October 22, 2020